Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012 Advocacy Update

The 2012 Indiana Legislative Session adjourned sine die (which means “without fixing a day for future action or meeting”) as of 1:44 a.m. Saturday.  And what a session is was.  MCCOY was very active monitoring bills, helping to ensure that good legislation passed through, and worked hard to stop or amend potentially harmful policy. All of this while listening to the chants of union protestors and the cheers of Giants and Patriots fans.
            At the beginning of the session, MCCOY was involved in the development of HB1310 Commission on improving the status of children (authored by Rep. Crawford – D Indianapolis). The crux of the bill is that agencies need to work together more effectively.  A commission providing oversight would be a good start to making sure service gaps are eliminated, overlap is prevented, and resources are used wisely. This bill did not get a committee hearing, but we intend to work with our partners over the summer to reintroduce it next session.
            SB267 Education concerning child abuse (authored by Sen. Rogers – D Gary) was another priority bill. We worked with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana to make sure this was heard in the House after it passed the Senate 50-0. This bill is a great step toward preventing child sexual abuse.
            Two bills MCCOY worked hard to amend were SB312 School policies on gangs (authored by Sen. Hershman – R Wheatfield) and HB1169 School discipline (authored by Rep. Koch – R Bedford). Our concerns with these bills were the potentially harmful impact in terms of disproportionality, first amendment rights and broadening the net with which youth come into contact with the juvenile justice system. We met with community members and partners, provided testimony at hearings, sent talking points out, spoke with legislators, and followed with rapt attention the progress of these bills.
Initially, SB312 died, but the language of that bill was amended into another bill before ultimately being killed on the Senate floor.  HB1169 originally began as a bill that gave schools more discretion to suspend and expel students. It was amended to be a study committee looking at all school discipline matters and we support it in its new form.  We hope to be active as a resource for the committee studying this important issue.
You can find information on these and any other bills on the Indiana General Assembly website under Bills & Resolutions

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